Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday he looked forward to “peacetime” for his country next year, while his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin warned the war could drag on.
“I believe that Ukrainians will be the most influential next year as well, but already in peacetime,” Zelenskyy said, speaking in a pre-recorded video after being named the most powerful person in Europe during the annual POLITICO 28 ranking gala.
“The Ukrainian military, who protects us all on their battlefields, are No. 1,” he added, thanking “all our friends in Europe who help us maintain stability” and “help millions live through this terrible time.”
His remarks came after, earlier on Wednesday, Putin said he expected the “special military operation” — Moscow’s preferred term for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine — to be “a long process,” in a rare reference to the war’s potential duration.
Putin also said that the risk of nuclear war was mounting, according to Reuters, but added: “We haven’t gone mad, we realize what nuclear weapons are.”
“We have these means in more advanced and modern form than any other nuclear country … But we aren’t about to run around the world brandishing this weapon like a razor,” he said.
Despite facing several military setbacks in recent weeks — including the liberation of Kherson, which had been occupied by the Russian army since late February — Putin said he would not call up more reservists.
In September and October, roughly 300,000 Russian army reservists were mobilized following a call from the Russian president.
Last week, a senior Ukrainian official said that between 10,000 and 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24.
In November, U.S. intelligence reported that “well over” 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured in the war.